By Steve Heaney, MC and Damien Lewis
Sergeant Steve Heaney tells the explosive true story of the epic operation that helped to bring to an end the Sierra Leone Civil War and earned him the Military Cross.
2,000 blood-crazed rebels. 26 elite British soldiers. One man's explosive true story.
Airlifted into the heart of the Sierra Leone jungle in the midst of the bloody civil war in 2000, 26 elite operators from the secret British elite unit X Platoon were sent into combat against thousands of Sierra Leonean rebels.
Notorious for their brutality, the rebels were manned with captured UN armour, machine-guns and grenade-launchers, while the men of X Platoon were kitted with pitiful supplies of ammunition, malfunctioning rifles, and no body armour, grenades or heavy weapons.
Intended to last only 48 hours, the mission mutated into a 16-day siege against the rebels, as X Platoon were denied the back-up and air support they had been promised, and were forced to make their stand alone. The half-starved soldiers, surviving on bush tucker, fought with grenades made from old food-tins and defended themselves with barricades made of sharpened bamboo-sticks, tipped in poison given to them by local villagers.
Sergeant Steve Heaney won the Military Cross for his initiative in taking command after the platoon lost their commanding officer. OPERATION MAYHEM recounts his amazing untold true story, full of the rough-and-ready humour and steely fortitude with which these elite soldiers carried out operations far into hostile terrain.
Steve Heaney joined the Parachute Regiment Juniors at 16, then passed Parachute Regiment selection and joined 3 PARA in 1987. Two years later he successfully undertook selection into X Platoon - the Pathfinders. He went on to serve with X Platoon, working with almost every allied Special Forces unit with which the British military has links. In 1999 he was promoted to Platoon Sergeant. He won the Commanding Officer's Commendation for finding arms caches in Northern Ireland. Sergeant Heaney left the British military in 2001, by which time he was the most experienced Military Parachutist in the British Army. He has spent the last decade working as a senior military adviser to one of Britain's key allies.
Damien Lewis has worked as a war and conflict reporter for major broadcasters, reporting from across Africa, South America, the Middle and Far East, and has won numerous awards for his journalism. In 2001 he wrote his first book, an international bestseller translated into over 30 languages, and adapted into a film and stage play. His books OPERATION CERTAIN DEATH, APACHE DAWN and FIRE STRIKE 7/9 were SUNDAY TIMES bestsellers, and he has co-written many other books, including PATHFINDER and BORN FEARLESS - the former a SUNDAY TIMES Top 10 bestseller, and the latter the UK's highest-selling military non-fiction title of 2012. Damien's recent Special Forces book ZERO SIX BRAVO reached No.1 on the SUNDAY TIMES non-fiction bestseller list.
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- Publication date:
07 May 2015
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Sergeant Steve Heaney captures the confusion, black humour, raw courage and sheer exhilaration of combat brillantly. This book is one of the best accounts of low-level tactical soldiering since Fred Majdalany's WW2 classic Patrol. But Heaney tells a broader tale that has rarely been captured so well... I commend it to the professional soldier and layman alike. — General Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, Chief of the Defence Staff 2010-13, THE TIMES
'... read this account of his [Steve Heaney] stint with the 26-man strong X Platoon in the sweltering jungle, living on grubs, outnumbered 80 to one, battling heavily armed rebels with bamboo sticks and home-made grenades, and you'll be asking the question... Why wasn't he given TWO MCs?' — Jon Wise, Sunday Sport